Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekend News

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  Our visit with SIL A was a pleasure as always.  I did not go with them to plant flowers in on the graves of their family because I really hoped to be able to complete the work on my quilt.  I missed a good time with them, but they were both very understanding.  My pay back will be to research appropriate hostas for planting next year.

While they were gone, I did get the quilt almost finished.  It had everything but the animals on it, all the quilting complete, borders cut, and binding finished.  Today I put the animals on and stitched down some edges.  Next I have to make and attach the sleeve and the label.  After those chores are done, I will add the crystals and call it well and truly done.

Since it is a Challenge Quilt, I don't feel I can show a photo of it yet.  However, D pointed out that our peonies in the back (behind the gaden and lilac hedge) are in bloom.  Since we can't really see them, I went back there with my snips and here they are:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Busy Times

Today wasn't either.  No sewing at all, but quite a bit of errand running of the regular every day type (including a hair cut) and construction busy-ness.  Among the errands was the finding and purchasing of both lights for above the vanity in the new bathroom as well as faucet and taps for the sink.  

The latter accomplishment made me very happy because when I returned home I received a phone call from UPS alerting me to the impending delivery (tomorrow) of the 243 lb vanity. Wow!  I had no idea a vanity 36" x 22" x 36" could be so heavy!  It must be the travertine top and the solid wood (no particle board thank heavens).

In the house D helped me move some furniture from near the sofa so tomorrow the men can get to the it to move it out and into the garage.  Then, of course, I had to vacuum all around the sofa and every nook and cranny of the sofa I could get to.  It needs to look its best so the Salvation Army will accept it.  If they give a thumbs down it'll be off to the dump.  I really hope they take it because I think there is still comfort and life left in it.

Tomorrow I have to find some Swarovski crystal and find time to fix what went wrong yesterday with the quilt.  Then on to the next item on that list.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today was not Yesterday

Today was not yesterday - hmmm, sound peculiar?  If you look at yesterday's entry and think about what I accomplished and then re-read that first sentence, you will know what kind of day today was.

After doing a little bit in the family room (and I do mean "little"), D and I went off to find LED lights for the overhead cams and a fan.  Since Joann's was in the same area, I stopped in for some beads and Swarovski crystals both for the quilt I'm working on and pearls for the crazy quilt block.

I found beads that are acceptable and pearls that will do, but it appears that Joann's is no longer carrying the Swarovski crystal.  What?  No crystals?  Fortunately I do know of a few other local sources, but really - How can it be called a craft store with no decent crystals?   That was a major disappointment.

Then we went to the lights and fan store.  D wandered off to find someone who could find the lights he wanted (none on the shelves to which we had been directed) so I found the fans.  I was still walking up and down the fan section waiting for something to leap off the shelves or flash strobe lights from the hanging fans to catch my attention when D came to get my opinion on LED lights.  Did you know there are now four different kinds of light given off by LED bulb?  Now that was no fun! We decided to go home and find out what kind we bought for the kitchen and find a fan on line.

As soon as we finished lunch, the workmen told us not to use water for a while.  Ha!  So I went up to the studio and promptly got to work on the List.  At 6:00 I realized that the section I was working on looking awful.  I took the quilt off the machine and turned it over to snip some bobbin threads and discovered that the sewing in the section done first today had a real problem with tension.  Those bobbin threads were huge loops.  So that had to come out also.  All sewing I did today needs to be taken out.  A wasted day.

So one good day followed by one bad one.  I hope that is enough of that!

Except there was one good thing that happened today - I now have a tooth in the formerly empty space in my jaw.  That I was an excellent thing!  It almost makes up for the rest.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Another Quick Up-Date

D's sister A is coming this weekend.  That realization occurred to me this morning so as soon as I finish this entry, I must email her and warn her about the current state of - well, not quite chaos, but a bit more than disarray in our home.  The positive thing is that upstairs is much as usual.  It's the downstairs . . .

Today I continued on the dismantlement of the family room.  Some smaller pieces of furniture were removed, other pieces had drawers removed, shelves were partially divested of fragile contents, and a modest number of books were sorted into keep, give away, or throw away.  That took only a few hours of morning time, and the same will be done tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  By the time A comes, the family room will be a bit less - well, just a bit less than everything it has been in the past.

This is a job that I am enjoying so far.  First of all, I haven't had to give up all my time to plunge in up to my neck.  I've been able to work at it slowly - which also means carefully and thoughtfully.  With any luck, I will be able to continue at this pace and therefore avoid the "I-can't-stand-it-any-more-so-I'm-going-to-throw-it-all-away" tendency that strikes when one is overwhelmed.

So as you have most likely realized, I was able to spend the afternoon in the studio working on the quilt.  Tonight I can happily report that out of the 15 items (the list grew a little) on my "to do" list 8 items have been completed.  If my schedule can be similar tomorrow, I hope to knock off another 3 items.

All is well.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Busy Day Upstairs and Down

We spent the post-walk morning moving fragile items from the top of the bookshelves in the family room.  The workmen are getting close to doing "things" on/to/around the walls shared with the family room so it seemed expedient to get moving on this task.  Our thought is to do a little bit each day until the job is done.  The only problem is that since we also plan to have the family room painted . . .  That means there are many days of "little bits" yet to be done.

Top that off with the usual conundrum of where to put all the "things" that call our family room "home", and we are looking at more than just a day or two of desulatory, haphazard work.  I still plan to give the job a morning's worth of work on a daily basis.  That way I can still work on the quilt and painting.

Which worked for me today.  D went off to have lunch with a colleague, and I spent the afternoon at the sewing machine working on the quilt-currently-in-progress.  By 5:30 I was ready to stop, but I wanted to complete the task of taking all the threads to the back of the quilt before quitting.  In order to make it more fun and also to get an idea as to how much I did today, I counted the threads.  When all was said and done, today I counted approximately 45 threads.

Now I know for sure that work is being accomplished.  It's always nice to have proof!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lucky 13???

Have you ever worked on something for what seems to be a long time only to sit back and realize that it doesn't seem if any work has been done at all?  That's the way it's going with the quilting project.

This afternoon as I was having lunch (yes, I do allow myself to take a break), I decided to make a list - you know I love lists - of all the things I have yet to finish as far this quilt goes.  I had 13 items on that list.

Then I went back upstairs and got back to work.  When D came home at 5:30 I was finishing what I was working on.  But before I went downstairs to make dinner, I took out the list and crossed off . . . wait for it . . . one item.

Then I realized I had forgotten to put an item on that list.

I'm back to a list with 13 items!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ho-hum Day Followed by Brilliance

Here's a quick run-down of my not-very-exciting day:

  • laundry - two more loads done and now it's finished
  • Hearts - several games as part of break/meal times
  • quilting - Day (4?) 9:00 - 11:00 a.m., 1:00 - 4:30 p.m. (and, if I have any energy left post-blog-writing, thread-burying until sleep takes over)
  • photo taking
  • putting new lamp together
  • watering plants and admiring 3 new ones that arrived today (hellebores)
  • bothering workmen 
  • bothering husband
  • bothering
Having given you an update on what is going on, I'll show you two photos I took yesterday of what I think is an especially lovely sunset - this is the "Brilliance" I mentioned in the title of this entry.

Now wouldn't these make wonderful studies?  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Progress Across the Board

Today we were able to take a break from running around trying to find whatevers for the new room (which I have now decided to refer to as the Garden Room for reasons I'll explain later).   So the first thing I did was go to painting class to work on the Venice painting.  It's a good thing I have class once a week or nothing would be done on this one due to everything else going on.

The first and most obvious thing I did was add the mooring posts in front of the pinkish building on the left.  I may have to tone that red down a bit given the type of day it was, but the red stands out quite strongly even in the photo.  And yes, the one on the left isn't straight, and I probably should have either made it lean more or have painted both as straight as soldiers standing guard.  But I didn't.  The windows in that building were also started - green shutters on the top floor and shadowed openings on the next floor down as well as the shadowed doorway between the mooring posts.  As I work on this building again and add more detail, I will make sure the perspective is correct.

While this was drying, I filled in most of the rest of the sky and added a bit of details to the background buildings.  That included drawing the paint down almost to the bridge where they will be seen through the railing on the bridge.  Those railings will be done with pen and ink; this is one place where I think the detail should be crisp.

When I got home, D and I went to the school to cast our votes on the budget, went on to the bank and grocery store.  Home again I started a laundry and then had time to go out to check progress.  The awning windows (seen below) were in. Through them we have a lovely view of the treetops.

Two of the three sections of the glass doors had been set in place.  They aren't fully secured yet as they were checking that every part worked before nailing everything down.

That unit looks right out on the garden in the backyard and has a clearer, more direct view that from the family room.  Hence my new name for the room.  My reasoning is that it will be used as a guest suite only on occasion and as a master suite - well, maybe not at all.  But we will spend quite a bit of time enjoying the view of the garden in all seasons.

And here is an example of what we will be able to see:

This slate-roofed with the lilacs behind it is the home for a family of wrens this year.  You can just see him on a perch by the second floor window.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Day's Search Yields Treasures

We hustled around today trying to find various and sundries for the guest suite.  You see, suddenly a number of individuals realized that the room which was started at the end of April will be finished (barring the unforeseen) sooner rather than later and that a vanity for the bathroom, ordered from the same dealer as last time, would take 5 weeks to arrive. Oops.

Naming no names and taking no hostages, of course.

After wandering what seemed to be all over the area, looking at some really strange possibilities and others that just weren't for us, stopping for lunch, discussing what we could use as "make do", and then making one last foray. we got lucky.  Here are our decisions for flooring, shower tile, and shower tile "garnish":

The flooring is similar to that in the kitchen only smaller in scale.  The large shower tile reminds me of the limestone we saw used as building blocks  in the houses in the Cotswold.  The narrow strips will run on either side of the small multi-color tiles.  The colors in those small squares are found in the large tile.  Warm and subtle.

When we returned home with our booty, D went to the computer and went to eBay looking for vanities.  He came up with a promising vanity with the soft close, dove-tailed drawers that we !wanted, but it was darker than I wanted.  A little more searching and he found the same model in a lighter color with a travertine (coordinates beautifully with the "limestone" tile in the shower) top!  Tomorrow that will be ordered.

At the end of the day, we think we have come up with winners in all things.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Quilt and a Good Book

No new photographs today and not a great deal to share.  Since I wrote last I have been spending the majority of my free time reading and working on THE quilt.  Yes, the quilt has become The quilt in my my mind - looming large and hanging out in the front of my mind complete with blinking neon lights and a boom box (playing rap music) on my shoulder.

Okay, here's what's happening with The quilt.  I am three days into the process of quilting the challenge quilt, and I am not having a good time.  First of all, this is only the second art quilt I've quilted, and I think it's only the third quilt I've quilted (the first I sewed diagonal lines - wow).  What I am doing now is free form - I'm trying to enhance my quilt design by drawing with thread.  Not so easy.  

Even though I practiced (using the same kind of fabrics, batting, and so forth) before starting, it has taken three days until I felt even slightly comfortable.  Each day I warm up by practicing for about 15 minutes before launching into the real deal.  

There are so many things that make this hard to do.  My quilt is quite stiff, and while not large, it doesn't fit easily in the opening of my machine.  The first day I forgot to bring the thread to the front of the quilt.  Not doing so means that I now have several bird nests of thread on the back of the quilt (very, very bad - mega points off if it were being judged).  As most elements of my design have to be quilted in a unique fashion, it all takes not only time but also thought.

Finally and probably the most trying are my own expectations.  I expect my work to be the best it can be, but when my "best" is sub-par, it's difficult to accept.  What I have to do is keep telling myself, that perfection is difficult to attain and to achieve it in the first attempts . . . well, it's not going to happen.

On the other hand, I finished The Boys in the Boat, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  I am not an enthusiastic reader of non-fiction, but this book is so well written and so fascinating that I was thoroughly engaged.  It's up there with my other favorite non-fiction book, The River of Doubt.  Both are worth a read, and I heartily recommend them!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


It's been over a week since I've written about the building going on in our back yard.  I warn you - I have pictures!

For those of you who know our house the wall on the right is the back of the garage.  There is a short lane in front of the window in what will be the new bathroom.  In order to make the roof work with the existing family room roof, the new roof couldn't grow out of the garage.

This is photo is taken from inside the new room looking towards the awning windows.  It's hard to tell, but the windows are, as the name suggests, high enough so there will be privacy even though the room looks over to our neighbors' home.

Here those window opening from the outside (with the legs of a ladder sticking out and wonderful shadows on the wall).  

This picture is looking through the roof towards the beginning-to-bloom tree against the blue sky.

Looking at the house from the back garden puts the construction into perspective. The bare spots are where some of the dirt from the excavation has been spread to smooth out the yard.  Of course, it's mostly sand!

The opening for the three panel glass door is clear in this photo.  And you can see straight through to the back door into the garage.  That door will be moved - eventually.

The decision has been made to vault the ceiling so it will be similar in style to the family room, and I am very happy.  Such a ceiling in this smaller room will make seem more open and airy.

It is all coming together.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Promise

D made the comment that I am really enjoying the current quilt project and pointed out that I am doing things I've never done before.  He said that I have to figure out how to do those things, to solve challenges, and that's one reason why I'm liking it.

He's right!

Almost everything about this quilt is new to me, and I like figuring out how to do make my ideas come to life in fabric. 

I realize this is a bit of a teaser because I'm not showing any pictures, but I'm loving this journey and promise to share it when the time is right.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Another Day - or Two in the Building

The weather has really turned back to cold and rainy, but still the builders persevere.  The remarkable hole in our ground now looks like this:

You'll also see that it has been back filled.  In addition, they used as much of the excess soil (okay, so where we live it's mostly sand) as was needed to fill in some of the lower parts of the backyard.  

For the rest?  Still working on the challenge quilt.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Venice Study - Day 2

Because I spend so much time working on my current quilt, my painting days since the last class number zero.  That meant that today I really wanted to get some serious work (meaning "being determined", not allowing for "distractions", and "paying attention to all teacher comments") done.  

Believe it or not, I kept to my plan and concentrated on painting.  

Because one frequently has to let paint dry before continuing, one moves back and forth from one area of a painting to another.  For example, today I started on the background buildings which are one on top of another so while waiting for wet paint to dry (a frequent occurrence) I moved my attention to the bridge over the canal, then back to a building, etc.

I was able to add another wash on the water to change it from the greenish to more of a gray green.  From the looks of this photograph now the water seems too gray.  I'll have to go back to look at the painting (rather than a photo) and see if that is the case and do something about it if necessary.  Gray-green water is what I want, but I also have to be careful not to lose all of the light (white paper shining through).  It's close already.  

Well, we'll see what happens the next time I work on it - at which point I really have to start working on the big building on the left.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Challenge Quilt

In between getting the basement tidy enough for workmen to move around without killing themselves or messing up my organization, I have spent my "free" time working on my challenge quilt.  

Towards the end of April I mentioned working on the quilt, but I don't think I had gotten to the point where I got rid of the original background and started over with new choices that I think are much better.  Then I took apart the tree and fiddled with it until I was satisfied, and then worked on some more smaller trees.  From there I have spent time almost everyday working on one or another of several aspects.  

I have to say I am getting a little concerned about getting the putting-together stage finished in time to work on the finishing work before the due date in early June.  

There's always something else that needs to be done in the house, and now with construction going on with all that entails . . . well, the quilt will either get finished or it won't.  As long as I do my best and don't slack off or procrastinate (which I am prone to do - I always figure things can be completed faster than they really can).

Sunday, May 1, 2016

More Building

Happy Sunday!  It's been a dreary day, but we each were able to work on things needing to be done.  Not that either of us finished anything, but at least we worked at it!

Fortunately, the men who are working on our addition paid attention to the forecast and got more done on Friday than D and I did the entire weekend.  First there was a bit of snafu when the HUGE truck arrived with the cement block, mortar, and sand . . .  and there was no one here but me.  The truck driver and I both realized there was no way he was going to get that truck up our driveway, and at least he knew what to do about it.  The blocks were off loaded as you can see and the bags of mortar followed suit.  The problem was what to do with the sand which is in that big yellow "bucket" on the back of the truck.  Fortunately, the mason arrived and the sand was dumped into his truck.

The biggest worry for me was paying the bill.  I thought I would have to front the money.  Luckily I would have been able to do that, but I admit to having had some concern about how quickly I would get paid back.  Before that became a real issue, one of our builders showed up and took charge of everything - including the bill!

Here is the mason checking the blocks.  There were two helpers who actually did the hauling and stacking so he didn't have to do that . . . 

. . . but he did take it upon himself to stack them the way he wanted them.  That was a good thing as he did almost all of the actual mortar work on Friday.  

It drizzled a bit Saturday evening, but today it was quite damp.  It's good to know the walls are complete! Unfortunately, I haven't loaded those photos so you'll have to wait to see the walls.